COVID-19 Information

UC Santa Barbara's Response to the Global Pandemic

Last updated: June 19, 2020

Campus officials continue to work closely with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and with the UC Office of the President to provide our community with the most current information regarding the global COVID-19 pandemic. The university has in place a COVID-19 working group and a pandemic response team to adapt to the situation as it evolves.

Students and employees are encouraged to consult with their health care providers and to obtain additional information from the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

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Do you have health-related questions about COVID-19?

Please visit our Health & Wellbeing page for information and resources, or call the campus's COVID-19 Call Center at (805) 893-3113, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, or if you think you need a COVID-19 test, contact Student Health or your healthcare provider immediately.

Campus Updates

In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within our community and to assist our students, faculty and staff in managing the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has taken a number of actions and adopted a range of practices and protocols. They are outlined in the following campus communications:

Remote work arrangement to continue through March 2021

  • In light of the updated guidance and the current COVID-19 surge, those faculty and staff members who have been working remotely are asked to continue to do so at least through March 28, 2021. In addition, to ensure maximum flexibility for staff members, UC President Michael Drake last week issued an executive order extending to June 30, 2121, the time period during which paid administrative leave may be used for COVID-19-related reasons. The Office of the President also has released clarification on COVID-19 Extended Family Medical Leave, one of three COVID-19-related paid leave provisions available to policy-covered represented staff employees. More information can be found in the Chancellor’s Update for Staff and Faculty.

Winter Quarter Academics and Housing

  • With COVID-19 outbreaks increasing in California and across the country, and with the safety and wellbeing of our students and community as the highest priority, UC Santa Barbara will continue to offer most undergraduate and graduate courses via remote instruction the winter quarter. However, plans are underway for a slight increase in the number of in-person courses, and to offer limited winter quarter housing in undergraduate apartments, contingent on health guidance and the incidence of COVID-19 in our community. Details about this and about COVID-19 in Isla Vista and the campus’s testing COVID-19 capabilities can be found in the Chancellor’s COVID-19 Update: Planning for Winter Quarter.

California COVID Notify

  • UC Santa Barbara has joined the pilot program of California COVID Notify, an anonymous and voluntary COVID-19 exposure notification system that allows users to receive automatic alerts via their smartphones following potential exposure from other enrolled users, regardless of whether the individuals know each other. The program is a collaboration between UC and the State of California to assess the use of the technology on a voluntary basis as a means of reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The opt-in notification system will become available statewide in December. More information, including a link to instructions for opting in to the system can be found at California COVID Notify and on The Current

Holiday Travel Advice

  • In advance of the Thanksgiving holiday, Dr. Vejas Skripkus, executive director of Student Health, and Dr. Laura Polito, medical director of the campus’s COVID-19 Response Team, offer travel guidance to students. The medical experts encourage students to remain in the area over the holiday weekend, or to complete the quarter from home if they do choose to travel. Details may be found in their Nov. 9 message to students. Faculty and staff members received similar advice in a Nov. 11 message to campus from Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall, Associate Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Garry Mac Pherson and Dr. Polito.

COVID-19 Cases in Isla Vista

  • The vice chancellor for student affairs provided information regarding a number of COVID-19-related issues, including current Santa Barbara County public health orders that will be in effect during Halloween; physical distancing and face covering guidelines; and quarantine, isolation and contact tracing for those potentially exposed to COVID-19. Details may be found in the Oct. 20 message to students.

COVID-19 Asymptomatic Testing on Campus

  • In addition to the daily symptom survey, faculty and staff members who come to campus for instructional, research, or work purposes that cannot be performed at home are strongly urged to participate in weekly COVID-19 asymptomatic testing. Undergraduate students living in campus housing, working on campus or attending in-person instruction on campus are required to be tested weekly. ICA student-athletes, coaches, and staff must also meet separate NCAA requirements. Details, including FAQs, can be found in the Chancellor’s October 15 messages to faculty, staff and research community members and to graduate students and undergraduate students, and on the Student Health website.

Influenza Vaccination Mandate

  • Beginning Nov. 1, 2020, the UC Office of the President is making influenza vaccinations mandatory for all faculty, staff and students who will be working, living or learning on a UC campus anytime during the 2020-21 flu season. Faculty and staff members in need of a flu vaccination should contact their primary care providers or visit their local pharmacy. Students in need of a flu vaccination should contact Student Health. Appointments may be made through the Student Portal. Details about the influenza vaccination mandate as well as instructions for verifying a flu vaccination has been received can be found on the flu vaccination information page.

Campus Measures to Mitigate COVID-19

COVID-19 Budget Impacts

  • The COVID-19 crisis and its accompanying uncertainties have profoundly impacted the financial health of universities across the country, including UC Santa Barbara. The Chancellor’s Committee on Budget Strategies is working to preserve the campus’s fiscal health. Details may be found in the Chancellor’s Campus COVID-19 Update: Addressing Budget Impacts.

Additional notices from the Chancellor and others may be found in Messages to Campus.

COVID-19 Call Center

The campus’s COVID Call Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at (805) 893-3113 to assist students, faculty and staff with questions related to the campus’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Questions also can be emailed to

The call center is operated by non-medical staff who are working with the campus’s COVID-19 Response Team to direct callers to the appropriate campus resources and organizations for information on COVID-19 health issues, including medical needs and COVID-19 testing; University housing; instruction, academics and research; COVID-19 mitigation protocols; and changes to campus operations. The call center also will receive reports of positive COVID-19 cases and refer them to the campus COVID-19 case investigators. 

The call center staff work in collaboration with the COVID-19 Response Team, which includes Dr. Laura Polito, associate medical director of Student Health Services, Dr. Elizabeth Toro, and licensed nurses and other medical staff to conduct COVID-19 testing and to quickly identify positive cases and exposed close contacts in the UC Santa Barbara community in an effort to help limit the spread of the disease.

Confirmed Campus Cases

Campus health officials work in collaboration with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department to help identify campus community members who may have been exposed to COVID-19 through close contact. They also follow up with those individuals regarding appropriate actions and to issue localized notifications when appropriate.

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus, any student or staff or faculty member who is confirmed to have COVID-19 and is working on campus or living in campus housing is asked to notify the University’s COVID-19 Clinical Team, as detailed on the Reporting COVID-19 page. Any information provided to the clinical team will remain strictly confidential.

UC Santa Barbara has five reported positive COVID-19 cases currently completing the required isolation period. 

Case 1: Undergraduate student

Case 2: Faculty member

Case 3: Graduate student

Case 4: Staff member

Case 5: Staff member

This site reflects only those COVID cases that are reported to and confirmed by campus officials AND involve individuals who either live in campus housing or are working or conducting research on campus. In accordance with health privacy laws, we cannot disclose personal or identifying information about individuals who have tested positive.

The University has limited information regarding cases in the adjacent community of Isla Vista. Privacy restrictions limit the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department's notification to campus officials about cases that occur in any off-campus location.

Information about all COVID-19 cases within Santa Barbara County is available at the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s website.

Campus Operations

While the University remains operational, many campus entities have curtailed their activities or limited their business hours. Below are the latest updates regarding central campus buildings and services. Contact individual departments, units and organizations directly for their availability and hours of operation.

Researchers should contact their academic departments for information about specific laboratories and research facilities.

  • The Office of Environmental Health & Safety has drafted the COVID-19 Prevention Plan, an all-inclusive mitigation and preparation plan for the campus’s eventual gradual return to in-person instruction, research and other operations.
  • Enrollment in the COVID-19 screening program is required for all employees, and those working onsite must complete the daily COVID-19 screening survey before arriving on campus. Employees who are working remotely but have occasional authorization to come to campus also must complete the COVID-19 daily screening prior to arrival.
  • All employees must complete “COVID-19 Returning to Work Training” course required by Cal/OSHA and the California Department of Public Health, which is available through the UC Learning Center.
  • In keeping with UC and State guidelines, including the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Institutions of Higher Education, non-essential visitors are not permitted on the UC Santa Barbara campus (with the exception of coastal access). Essential visitors are those individuals who have been expressly authorized and approved to perform service on campus.
  • The UC Santa Barbara Library offers a variety of remote resources and services for students, faculty and staff, including pickup and mail delivery for those seeking access to circulating library materials.
  • Student Health is open to provide all services as usual, in-person or via phone or Zoom.
  • The University Center (UCen) is closed, although some services within the building remain available, such as the UCen Post Office, the A.S. Food Bank and the Food Security & Basic Needs Advising Center.
  • The Campus Store offers limited curbside service. 
  • The Visitor Center offers interactive and three-dimensional virtual tours.
  • PaCE (Professional and Continuing Education) courses are offered remotely for Fall quarter.

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Resources

As the University navigates the constraints the COVID-19 pandemic places on campus life and operations, undergraduate and graduate students alike face numerous challenges. We’re here to help.


Undergraduate Instruction

  • Keep Learning UCSB includes resources to support virtual learning, with information about academic advising, effective strategies for remote learning and tips and suggestions for using technology such as Zoom and Gauchospace.
  • Successful Student Transitions supports first-year and transfer students as they make the transition to university life.

Graduate Instruction

  • The Center for Innovative Teaching, Research, and Learning (CITRAL) provides workshops and inclusive programming to support effective teaching.
    • Keep Teaching UCSB helps teaching assistants and instructors adjust to online instruction, with resources for lecturing through Gauchocast, creating online exams and quizzes, promoting student engagement, and more. 
  • The Graduate Student Resource Center has created a series of COVID-19 FAQs that address issues related to graduate student academics, productivity, funding, time-to-degree, and more.
  • The Graduate Division offers information outlining COVID-19-related services

Prospective Students

  • The Office of Admissions has put out the online welcome mat, offering virtual campus tours and webinars for prospective students.

Research Continuity

Essential campus research activities are gradually resuming, following a cessation due to COVID-19. 

The Office of Research has provided comprehensive guidelines, including:


Campus Protocols for Faculty, Staff and Students

For essential personnel who are reporting to work on-site, a number of protocols are in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. They include:


  • Practicing physical distancing, staying at least 6 feet away from other people.
  • Wearing face coverings in all workplace settings, and both indoors and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Cleaning/washing hands frequently.


Human Resources’ Guidance for Staff and Supervisors During COVID-19 Impacts provides information and resources for staff and supervisors. Links on the page are updated as announcements are made and new information becomes available.

The Environmental Health Program at Environmental Health & Safety offers numerous resources, including general information, guidance documents, information on masks and face coverings, cleaning resources and infographics and signage.

To support the health and wellbeing of faculty, staff and students as well as our broader communities, the University of California, in consultation with UC Health leadership, has issued a systemwide executive order requiring all members of the UC community to receive an influenza immunization before Nov. 1, 2020.

Working Remotely

Effectively meeting the public health challenge presented by COVID-19 means minimizing as much as possible the number of people on campus, while maintaining critical University functions. The campus remains open, but only essential personnel are reporting to work on-site. 

For those currently working remotely or planning to do so in the future, UC Santa Barbara Information Technology offers the following resources:

COVID-19 News

Visit The Current, UC Santa Barbara’s official news source, for the most recent campus news, including COVID-19 research features. Subscribe to receive The Current’s biweekly email. Here a few of the latest COVID-19-related headlines.

California COVID Notify


Campus to participate in smartphone exposure notification system pilot program aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19

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Physics at Your Fingertips

Monday, NOVEMBER 2, 2020

Faculty and staff in the physics department configure a sophomore lab course to work via remote control

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Aerosols vs. Droplets

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Researchers model the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in various temperatures and relative humidities in typical indoor situations

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